Red Light Management

Bobby Karl Works The Room: McGraw Gives Nashville His Gratitude

March 11, 2014

March 7, 2014 – Once they become superstars, the simple decencies of etiquette often go right out the window.

Tim McGraw is not one of those superstars. On Thursday afternoon (March 6), he invited the folks behind his landmark Two Lanes of Freedom CD to Cabana to treat them to lunch and tell them how much he appreciates them.

“How cool is Tim McGraw?” asked Scott Borchetta. “He had this idea to get everybody together who helped make this record. He just wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’”

“This record was so important to me,” said Tim. “Thank you for trusting me with your art, your poetry. That means more to me than anything in the world.

“This Big Machine couldn’t turn without everybody here. Everyone in this room is an artist.”

The 100+ invited guests included the songwriters, publishers, record-label personnel, engineers, managers, agents and other behind-the-scenes people it takes to make a hit. Tim didn’t invite them to curry votes, get press attention, request favors or increase his status. He only wanted to say, “Thank you.”

“In two months, it will be 25 years since I moved to Nashville,” he said. “I see so many people here who I’ve known all that time.” I am one of those people, so Tim and I talked about old times. And I couldn’t resist reminding producer Byron Gallimore that I still have the indie 45s he once recorded as an artist.

The room was rocking with folks like Carla Wallace, John Zarling, Dale Dotson, Alison Brown Jones, Rod Essig, Chuck Dauphin, Troy Tomlinson, Stephony Smith, Sandi Spika Borchetta, Chandra LaPlume and Julian King.

Tom Lord said he’s settling into his new gig at Red Light Management. “As long as you have a parking space and a desk,” I advised. Tim’s beloved Faith Hill said she’s perfectly happy being a wife and mom, so I guess we can stop wishing for a new record from her. She and Tim worked the room with immense warmth and grace.

Many of the attendees were the songwriters with cuts on Two Lanes of Freedom. I spotted Shane McAnally (“It’s Your World”), Lee Thomas Miller (“Southern Girl”), Josh Kear (“Friend of a Friend,” “Highway Don’t Care”), Tom Douglas (“Number 37405”) and Rodney Clawson (“One of Those Nights,” “Southern Girl”). Scott Stepakoff (“It’s Your World”) is celebrating the recent release of his own singer-songwriter CD. I begged him to send me a copy.

Kyle Jacobs (“Nashville Without You”) worked the room merrily, by taking glasses of champagne from table to table. Surprise, he has stopped shaving his head. Surprise, surprise, he has real hair and isn’t balding. Wife Kellie Pickler didn’t attend: She’s in the studio.

“You look around, and it’s amazing how many people it takes to make a record,” observed Drew Alexander.

Two Lanes of Freedom is a Gold Record. It is nominated for ACM Album of the Year, and its “Highway Don’t Care” is up for Single, Video and Vocal Event.

The Cabana luncheon began with organic field greens tossed with candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese crumbles, shaved red onion and raspberry vinaigrette. Our entrée choices were grilled salmon or grilled chicken served with whipped potatoes and green beans. Dessert was peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

Afterward, I was telling a prominent Music Row songwriter about the event. “Tim is one of the good guys,” she commented. “Thank you!? Nobody says that. They don’t even send you a copy of the record your song is on.”

“We get to move people with the music we make,” said a grateful Tim McGraw. “We get to make a difference in people’s lives. The care and the honor that we put into our music is rare. I’m so proud to be a part of this community.”

Amen, brother. And long may you sing.